In an incredibly heartwarming story about representation, a Black woman woke up recently from surgery to find that her hair had been braided while she was under anesthesia.
Not only that, it was her Black surgeon — a man — who had done the braiding. India Marshall is the 29-year-old who posted about the incident on social media in a now-viral post.
India shared that she’d had surgery to remove bone growths on her forehead. But when she woke up from the operation, she learned that someone had taken the time and effort to go above and beyond. Her Black surgeon had braided her hair to keep it out of the way of her incisions.
The act of kindness is incredibly touching for a few reasons. For starters, we often think of surgeons as being too busy to partake in personal touches like this. But to India, it was about even more than that. It showed her how truly important it is for Black individuals to be treated by Black doctors.
After recovering, of course, India had to share what had happened. She took to Twitter to talk about the beautiful act. She wrote, “so y’all know how I said I woke up from surgery w/more braids in my head than I came in w/and I thought it was the black nurses? I found out today at my post op appt that the surgeon (he’s black) did it. He said he has 3 little girls & they have wash day… I almost cried.”
People instantly loved the story, and with good reason. It’s incredibly touching. She continued, “while removing my staples he said ‘your braids look better than mine, I hope I didn’t do too bad’ and I was like excuse me??? YOU did my hair???… you could tell he was so proud to tell me too lol.”
India’s post got so much attention that Today reached out to her for an interview. She told the publication about what happened that day. “My head was really bandaged up when I first came out of surgery. So it was time to clean the incisions and we took the bandages off and I was touching my hair and stuff and I looked in the mirror and I was like, ‘Oh, someone braided my hair.'”
She continued, “I thought it was nice that I had the braids in a way where we could easily get to the incisions and my hair was out of the way, which was very nice because I felt really sick after surgery and in pain.” Still, she wouldn’t find out until later that it wasn’t a nurse who took the time to braid her hair, which still would’ve been a beautiful act! It was her surgeon.
The braids were courtesy of Dr. Jewel Greywoode — the man who operated on her. He specializes in cosmetic and functional facial plastic surgery at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose and Throat Associates in Charlotte, North Carolina. As India pointed out on social media, he has daughters. Well, of course he does.
India pinpointed exactly why it was so emotional for her. She said, “I am one of four girls in my family. So just thinking of especially a father, but a Black father, doing his daughters’ hair … some people know natural hair is a lot to deal with, so him being very involved in doing his hair and taking the time to do that for me before surgery was huge.”
The whole incident brings up a really important point that India, as well as so many commenters, were quick to point out. The point being that representation matters everywhere, but in medicine it is massively important. Not only because racism exists everywhere and can impact how people are treated when getting cared for in hospitals and doctors’ offices, but more Black doctors treating Black patients makes way for even more personal connection.
“I know that I could only have gotten that type of care and experience with a Black doctor because he understood my hair,” India said. “He also brought up that he didn’t use sutures or stitches because he didn’t want to cut my hair when removing it. The staples are easier to take out. So that was just another example of how he was able to understand me as a Black woman and the importance of my hair and preserving it.”
No matter how you look at it, it’s a truly touching story. It’s no wonder it made its way around the internet so quickly. India’s post has over 586,000 likes on Twitter. Clearly, this doctor’s sweet act resonated with people everywhere.
India told Today that it’s not always easy to find Black doctors, though. That was part of the reason that she wanted to share her story. Perhaps in doing so, it will help people in positions of power to realize just how important it is to hire Black doctors to work in hospitals everywhere.
That way, Black individuals who want to have a doctor who better understands their personal needs can have that choice.